The bloodshed which occurred over the weekend in the Old Capital prompted Prime Minister Dean Barrow to assemble his cabinet ministers and devise a plan to combat the unprecedented upsurge in gun violence. This crime fighting strategy will focus efforts in Belize City since five of the six weekend murders occurred here. During a rare Sunday press conference PM Barrow outlined the actions that will take place in order to curb gun violence. Today, PUP Leader John Briceno called a press conference in which he criticized the Government’s strategy. Briceno says that the solutions proposed are old strategies that will not effectively address the serious crime condition. So Briceno offered proposals which he says will be effective in fighting crime.
John Briceno, Leader, PUP
“One, the People’s United Party is joining with Belizeans in demanding that the commissioner of police be removed so that trust in the police department can be restored. Two, the People’s United Party calls for an immediate appointment of a bipartisan commission to include civil society and task them within 30-60 days to consult with the nation and repot on a wide ranging and effective recommendations to deal with gun violence, home invasions and murders. Three, the People’s United Party calls for the immediate strengthening of the investigative branch of the police department and the DPP. A deterrent to crime is that criminals must know that they will be investigated, hunted down and successfully prosecuted and imprisoned. Four, the People’s United Party proposes that instead of treating the southside of Belize City like a warzone and declare it a state of emergency the Government should declare the southside of Belize City a special development zone where financial and human capital will immediately be made available to transform the lives and the environment of the citizens- education and skills training for all young people and at risk youths must be provided. DFC loans for small businesses, tax exemptions and duty free on all productive equipment and materials should be allowed.”
PUP Deputy Leader Cordel Hyde says that everyone should be involved in fighting crime.
Cordel Hyde, Deputy Leader, PUP
“Crime is not a genetic problem and I’ve said this before it’s not a problem of ethnicity, it’s an economic problem; it’s an economic morass people are living in and if you don’t target the resources to address the economic problems not much will change and I think people were disappointed on Sunday because I think they wanted to hear more, some new stuff and they wanted to feel as if though the cabinet spent some long hard time trying to figure out how to address the problem and that is not what we got on Sunday. The truth of the matter is that it’s about high time we get all the parents together, all the mothers and grandmothers, all the fathers who are around the gang members and prospective gang members we need to get all those persons together and get them to interact with each other. A lot of problems can be averted if the mothers are interacting. Lots of times these mothers are related to each other, it’s cousins killing cousins at times- but there is not interaction, too many people just doing their own thing. I think if you have that level of interaction you can get those parents to reinforce the mediation efforts. The mediation efforts alone will not be sustained over a long period of times. When the kids go home that focus on peace has to be reinforced by the parents, the grand parents, by the grandparents and by the family.”
Briceno says that his party is willing to work hand in hand with Government is addressing the crime situation in the country.
John Briceno, Leader, PUP
“We are hoping that by speaking out publicly that it will put a little bit more pressure on them to at least look at what we are proposing and hopefully call on us to sit down and to talk. I remember last year in the last House meeting for the year I again spoke out and reached out to the Prime Minister to work together and let us set a house committee from both sides to see if we can come up with some sort of ideas on how we can address the issue. Because we’ve been pointing out for quite some time that crime as what Cordel mentioned is not genetic, it’s not in just in one area but it’s spreading out and is all over the country. The Prime Minister agreed to the proposal but we heard nothing after that.Cordel has spoken in the house, I spoke again probably two House meetings ago again reaching out and calling on the Minister that we have to stop this brutalizing of our young people by the police department and then the Minister Aragon gets up and answers politically, he makes a political statement. We stand ready to work with them and we are very serious about it.